Hi everyone, and welcome back to my roundups of Apple Arcade games, called Apple Arcade Unwrapped. It’s similar to my weekly roundup called My Week Unwrapped. As I make my way through the Apple Arcade games, I’ll be posting my impressions about the games I played since the previous issue. The idea is to include gameplay videos and blurbs to help my readers decide which games to play first. There are already over 100 games available and I’m only one person, so please bear with me. But as I cover more games, I’ll be linking to that coverage here so you can find it all easily. Today’s roundup includes seven new games that I tried and others that I’m revisiting. Some are easy to recommend, but others have issues I’ll touch upon. It’s a mixed bag, but hopefully these roundups will help you decide which ones to focus on first.
E-Line Media’s Beyond Blue has you playing as Mirai, a deep sea diver trying to learn about sperm whales and other underwater species. There’s no combat or even any puzzles, really, from what I’ve played so far. It focuses on exploration and completing fairly simple missions. I was pretty impressed with it at first, as the graphics looked great on my iPad, and it’s even fully voice-acted. But after an update, I noticed a downgrade in the graphics, with text in the menus even looking blurry. I’m not sure what happened there, but it’s making me less eager to continue playing. I’m also not so sure the gameplay can hold my attention, as it’s the same things over and over. And without the pretty graphics to draw me in, it’s hard to convince myself to go back for more. I also don’t understand why the buttons are on the sides on iPad, since they’re all toggles and could work fine if they were higher up, near the top of the screen. As is, the buttons get in the way of the floating joystick and camera controls and I end up pressing them by accident when I’m just trying to move. I might revisit the game after another update if they fix the graphics again, but for now I’m taking a break. Anyway, it’s a decent game that’s worth checking out, just not as impressive as I was hoping.
A Fold Apart
A Fold Apart has been out for a few weeks now and I already reviewed it here, so I’ll keep this brief. Basically, I liked the puzzle mechanics, where you fold a sheet of paper to help the characters get to the goal. I even like the story to a degree, as just about anyone can relate to the struggles of a long-distance relationship, especially now during the pandemic. But the couple has too much inner dialogue and the whole becomes this giant slog every time we stop to listen to them. There’s no way to skip it and just get to the puzzles, so by the time I completed the game I was just relieved. There are the makings of a solid game here, but it needs a lot of work to be something I’d recommend, especially to people who would be coming for the puzzles more than the story. Again, you can read my review if you want more details. I also have a walkthrough here if you get stuck on any puzzles.
Neversong is a puzzle platformer about about a boy who wakes up from a coma and heads off on an adventure to save his friend. It’s fully voice-acted and has a slick art style. The puzzles are also interesting, though it can be easy to overlook a clue if you’re not paying close attention. I was actually enjoying it for a while and started a walkthrough guide, but then I got to a new mechanic that’s overly complicated for touchscreen controls and I lost interest. Basically, you find these magnetic gloves that allow you to swing on hanging orbs. That in itself is fine. But what I found frustrating was having to use my bat while swinging to get it to swing higher. It’s a very clunky and cumbersome way to do it, especially since you also have to then jump off at the right moment to reach the next one. I struggled so much just to get it to work once and I can’t see doing that to get through the rest of the game. So I’m not sure if I’ll ever complete it. But it might be better with a controller or for people who are less bothered by dealing with multiple touchscreen controls at once.
When I saw the screenshots of The_Otherside, I was immediately reminded of Asmodee Digital’s Zombicide. And after playing a bit, I can see my initial impressions were right. The game is basically Zombicide with alien monsters instead of zombies. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it just has that feeling of a game I’ve already played before. Overall, it’s still made pretty well. But it feels slow and clunky due to the fact that it often takes several taps to get it to recognize that I’m trying to attack the monsters. I’m also not sure how I feel about features and monsters slowly unlocking the more you play. It’s not really based on how well you do, but rather there’s an experience bar at the top that fills up with each game you play, whether you win or lose. I haven’t unlocked any new characters yet, but I assume that’s how you do it. I also only have access to the small boards right now, and I kind of wish the larger boards were unlocked after I proved my worth by beating the small board a few times, not just earning experience points. I also find the luck-based dice rolls a bit frustrating, as I’ve often rolled dice that dealt no damage. Overall, I could see spending more time with the game if the responsiveness of the controls is improved. At the moment, I’m finding it a little too annoying to have to tap a bunch of times when I want to attack. But I do think the game is still worth checking out if you like turn-based strategy games.
Q-Games’ and PixelJunk’s Scrappers takes place in a future where humanity has been wiped out by their own garbage and the Earth is controlled by robots. Trash is also worth money, so rival gangs fight over it. You play as a robot garbage collector and also fend off other robots trying to get your trash. Unfortunately, the touch controls are not great, especially when trying to line up with robots that are attacking you. Throwing trash into the truck is also difficult to pull off. And I just don’t find it very compelling to be picking up trash in general. It might be more fun playing co-op with friends and with a controller, but on my own I lost interest pretty fast.
Towers of Everland
I’m always hoping to find a new dungeon crawler that will hold my attention. The last one I got into was Book of Demons, and I spent about fifteen hours with it before giving it a rest. It was adapted perfectly to touchscreens and struck a perfect balance between looting, upgrading and frantically attacking enemies before they could do too much damage. I was hoping Towers of Everland might offer a similar experience, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. First off, the game is in first person, and you move one tile at a time, like the old school dungeon crawlers. After just a few minutes, I got some pretty bad motion sickness. Still, I pushed through to at least complete the first area and try to get a feel for the game. I chose the Golem as my starting character because he looked like he could dish it out as well as he could take it. Also, it seemed more interesting than being a boring human. It took a bit of stumbling before I got used to the movement controls, but they were manageable. What I didn’t like is how you have two small buttons for the shield and attack, so I kept having to look down there and make sure my thumbs hit them. Besides that, the shield blocks half my view, and makes me feel like I’m playing half blind. I also found the environments lacking, as you can’t interact with much. There are barrels throughout, but you can’t break them. The only things you can interact with are enemies and chests. And those chests gave me three of the same exact buckler in that one dungeon. Even the shiny purple chest at the very end just gave me that same exact stupid buckler when I was expecting something legendary. It’s hard to get excited about entering another dungeon when the loot is so underwhelming. I’m also not sure why the town doesn’t have a store where I can sell those extra bucklers and try to buy something better. Maybe it unlocks after completing more quests, but that still seems strange. In general, I would expect to be able to access a shop once I get to a town. Anyway, because of the motion sickness I wouldn’t be able to play even if I did enjoy it. So all these little issues just make it easier to abandon.
I’ve been a fan of KO_OP ever since they released the trippy puzzle game, GNOG. So I was thrilled to see them back with a new game that’s equally as charming, called Winding Worlds. This one is focused more on the story, and so the puzzles are fairly simple. The controls for the entire game involve swiping up to down on the screen and left to right to make different things happen. For instance, swiping up might make your character, Willow, walk around the globe. But swiping left to right could make the globe change, thereby allowing you to access something that wasn’t there before. Each level focuses on helping a character find peace so they can move on. My favorite was the time-traveling one, though the quirky dialogue and cartoony art style make the entire game a joy to play. I did find the ending a little weird and, in general, I think more backstory might have helped here. But even so, I’m glad I played it and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys playful little games and doesn’t mind that there isn’t much challenge. You can also watch my walkthrough here if you’d like.
And last, one of my favorite Apple Arcade games, Grindstone, got a big content update with fifteen new levels, including a final boss battles that’s just a little bit insane. I really enjoyed the extra challenge from the new mechanics, and it gave me a chance to use my Cupid outfit that makes creeps fall in love. The final boss makes chains the same way you do, but he has 50 health and you only have 3 hearts. So it took me a number of tries to beat him. It was satisfying to finally do it, though. Anyway, this update also had an ending cutscene and credits, which made it seem very final. I hope it’s not the last we’ll see of Grindstone, but after that ending I’m not sure we can expect any more. I’m still holding out hope for an endless mode, though! Anyway, if you haven’t played Grindstone yet, you’re really missing out on a fantastic game! And you can find my entire playthrough here.
And that’s all the Apple Arcade games I’ve played over the last few weeks or so. The games do seem to be releasing more regularly now, so I’ll try to make these roundups more frequent. Anyway, let me know in the comments section which games you’re enjoying and I’ll see you back here next time with more Apple Arcade Unwrapped!